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How this Kentucky team compares to Calipari’s others so far

How does this Kentucky team compare to the others of the John Calipari Era in key statistical areas? In some ways, they’re the best; in others, the worst.

In the game notes each week, the UK Athletics staff puts together a chart comparing the ten teams of the Calipari era through whichever number of games the current team has completed, so, as of today, fourteen. Knowing one of this team’s weaknesses, I added opponent three-point percentage to the data:

(Click to enlarge)

As you can see, the numbers tell us some interesting stuff. Let’s start with the good.

Free Throw Percentage: 75.9% – Highest of the Calipari Era

The one area this team is better than any other is free throw percentage. Currently, the Cats are making 75.9 percent of their free throws, by far the best of the Calipari Era. The next closest team through 14 games was the 2011-12 national championship squad. The only player averaging under 70 percent from the charity stripe is EJ Montgomery at 64.3 percent. PJ Washington, aka Mr. 1-2, has improved his percentage from 60.6 percent last year to 72.1 percent so far this season.

Field Goal Percentage: 49.0% – Second Highest of the Calipari Era

Calipari believes this is his best shooting team, and so far, they rank behind only the 2009-10 squad in field goal percentage through 14 games. Kentucky’s shot over 50 percent in three of the last five games, so hopefully that number will continue to improve.

Opponent Field Goal Percentage: 42.9% – Highest of the Calipari Era

Kentucky’s defense has improved, but they’re still allowing their opponents to make 42.9 percent of their shots, the worst mark of the Calipari era. Not surprisingly, the 2014-15 team had the lowest opponent field goal percentage, 31.1 percent, but since then, Calipari’s squads have allowed their opponents to make 41.03 percent of their shots. Not a good trend.

Opponent Three-Point Field Goal Percentage: 38.9 percent – Second Highest of the Calipari Era

It may not feel like it, but so far, this team doesn’t have the worst perimeter defense of the Calipari Era. That honor goes to the 2015-16 squad, which allowed its opponents to make 40.8 percent from behind the arc at this point in the season; so far, this group is allowing 38.9 percent. After holding North Carolina and Louisville to 38.9 and 25 percent from three, respectively, Kentucky allowed Alabama and Texas A&M to make 43.5 and 47.1 percent from the outside. Oof.

Blocks: 76 – Fewest of the Calipari Era

Despite having two near-seven-footers in Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, this team has the fewest blocks of the Calipari Era so far. Both Richards and Montgomery looked good vs. Texas A&M; hopefully their play continues to improve, because this team desperately needs rim protection.

Rebounds per game: 38.0 – Fewest of the Calipari Era

This is the one that probably makes Cal want to tear his hair out. This should be a great rebounding team, but so far, they’re only getting 38 boards per game, the fewest of the Calipari Era. PJ Washington and Reid Travis lead the team in rebounding with 8.1 and 6.1 per game, while the other big men, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards, are only averaging 3.7 and 3.5 per game. Cal’s said it several times, but those numbers need to go up.

I’ll keep an eye on these numbers throughout the season to see how Kentucky improves. What stat stands out to you the most?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

37 responses to “How this Kentucky team compares to Calipari’s others so far”

  1. Bigblue7982

    3pt defense needs to improve.

  2. No more excuses cal

    Stats don’t matter all that matters is past cal teams was players first So is this one

  3. KYCat4EVER


    I’m surprised we don’t have an NBA Drafted category.

    Winning a National Championship … that’s the ONLY stat that truly matters…. when comparing UK teams…

    Let’s get another banner Coach Cal…


    1. BigolBlue

      Yeah but remember those other 10 plus loss seasons they made a run in tournament? People forget those. Dont worry we shouldnt as fans of uk bball ever want to win titles. Cal has been coasting since 2015. He got his 1 title. Hes ready to just chill out and collect his checks. As long as we are in top 25 and make the tournament were good

    2. KYCat4EVER


      Tournament Runs!!!!

      Still waiting on Tournament Championships!

    3. catsarerunnin


  4. J. Did

    Study and chart the UK vs UNC game 12/2018. It was a template of what an NCAA tourney game will be. Our Kids must be in the best physical condition/shape. Box out and rebound like madmen. Hit free throws. Pass. Press. If you have to set up an offense, that’s plan B. This is not too much to ask.

    1. Carcrook


    2. mikeg84

      WAHHHH!!! Hey big ol blue – Cal can’t recruit WAHHHHH, where’s my Tampax mommy, I can’t seem to find it today and it’s a big bad one this morning – Coach Cals recruiting classes are so overrated mommy it’s making me so upset! We never go anywhere in the tourney anymore – I mean we lost in the elite 8 on a buzzer beater just 2 seasons ago mommy to the eventual national champ, but that team sucked too mommy!!! WAHHHHHHH

    3. BigolBlue

      Excuse mike

  5. bigblue2284

    This compares to other down year Cal teams. The freshman class the last two years have been severely overrated. The only player out of the last two seasons that will have a long career in the NBA is Knox, maybe Johnson for his effort and defense. Pretty simple equation: more talent more success. Cal with middle of the pack talent has down years, Cal with elite talent has elite and fun teams. The last two years have been pretty rough and his recruiting isn’t getting better, this is what happens when you miss the elite guys and only listen to recruiting services.

    1. KYjellyRoll

      I think fox and Shai can be put into that statement.

    2. bigblue2284

      Fox was three years ago doesn’t apply. SGA had a great start and has hit a wall, verdict is still out.

  6. davis2319

    This team goes as Tyler Herro and PJ Washington go. When they play well, we play extremely well and can beat anyone in the country. When they disappear and are timid, we lose. If one of them play well, we have a fighting chance. I single them out because they are the most inconsistent on the team. Everyone else is kind of what you see is what you get game in and game out. We have a talented team, but the question is can we play at a consistently high level like we are capable of for 6 straight games. We’ll see

    1. henderblue

      I agree with what you are saying but I would add Keldon Johnson in with those two. We can’t have him disappearing either.

  7. VirginiaCat

    There is an old saying in personal finance that it’s not how much you earn that is important, but how much you keep. The same can be said for recruiting. Top notch talent in high school is not going to translate into top talent in college the first year. Almost all 5-stars need 2-3 years go grow into their bodies and exhibit the dominance that they showed in high school. There are exceptions, of course, but not that many. Therein lies the fallacy of the OAD system. It’s like buying wine that will be wonderful once it ages properly, but then throwing it away too soon and restocking with new wine that will repeat the cycle. That’s essentially what Cal does. He brings in players with excellent potential, develops them as much as he can in one year, and then moves them out before they realize their full college potential. If Cal would keep players longer, it would make all the difference. But he isn’t going to do that because it’s not his priority.

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      He does GREAT with developing elite guys in one year. KAT, AD, etc. He’s great at getting elite talent to reach potential in a single year. He does not do well with guys that return.

    2. bigblue2284

      This is the biggest falsehood that pro Cal fans use. AD , Kat and Wall were going to be superstars regardless of where or who they played for. You say he doesn’t develope multi year guys well because those are the players he actually tries to “develope”. It is actually a self serving bunch of non sense that Cal uses to claim he is elite at something because it sure isn’t actual coaching.

    3. WatchutalkinboutWillis

      I guess Ulis would have went to the NBA after two years going anywhere else.

    4. njCat

      Yes he would have, after staying four years and becoming one of the best college players in the country.

      Same kids who get peer pressured out of here are 4 year players at other schools. Charles Matthew anyone?

    5. WatchutalkinboutWillis

      The problem with your analogy is that Cal isn’t throwing out players. For the most part they are leaving for the NBA to fulfill their dream and make a lot of money. So basically your analogy is very good when it comes to wine and very poor when it comes to actual people.

  8. VirginiaCat

    BTW, excellent data. Thanks.

  9. Wade

    March is when it matters

    1. njCat

      Wake me up when it’s March. Right now team is borderline unwatchable most of the time. Outscored in second half by a bad team on our home court. Trrrble

    2. Skooms

      Howabout we wake you up when you actually become a UK fan?

  10. CayutsBy90

    Tells a a clear story – good team that needs to improve on D and lacks an elite tue big man

  11. dcforuk

    Hey this is a good compilation. I’m glad you put this together. I would be really curious what the turnovers look like over the last seven games compared to games eight through 14 for the 2011 season. This team has the feel of the 2011 team from the perspective of shooting percentage and efficiency with turnovers etc. so even though the total turnovers through 14 games does not look very good, I think it has gotten better as the season has progressed

  12. UKinIN

    This is what drives me crazy about KSR writers: “This should be a great rebounding team.” Based on what? Six of the players in the game against TX A&M were in high school last year. There’s no correlation between high school and the highest level of D1 basketball. There is zero basis for the argument that this should be a great rebounding team. Height alone does not equate to rebounding and most tall guys can’t do more than rebound a ball within their area. Great rebounders anticipate misses, track the ball and rebound outside of their own area. The only new player you could predict rebounding success for was Travis and that’s because his three seasons provided verifiable college basketball production.

    Please retire the notion that Calipari’s teams, with rosters changing every year, should be good at anything. We’ll know what this team will do well based on what we see in games. That’s it.

    1. runningunnin.454

      But they are a great rebounding team. They killed UNC on the boards 44-33, and UNC is one of the better rb teams in the country. UNC beat No. 15 NC State on the boards 51-33.
      UNC is currently 3rd nationally in rebounding, and UK is 7th.
      Rebounding, like defense, requires effort and hard work; and, the effort hasn’t been there the last couple of games.

  13. No more excuses cal

    There all show and no go

  14. CahillsCrossingNT

    One thing with any UK team I always want is good free throw shooting. However, in my lifetime, two of the best free throw shooting UK teams were 1979 and 2009. Both teams wound up in the NIT.

  15. Kat4Life

    I’m beginning to realize that Montgomery is not a big, he’s more of a wing player.

    1. bigblue2284

      Same thing that Cal did to Skal, made him play out of position. While Skal isn’t great in the NBA Cal didn’t maximize him in college or “develop” him.

    2. dcforuk

      I think Skal had a little bit of what I had in my early years…..the deer in the headlight look. That’s a tough thing for both player and coach alike to navigate through……

    3. bigblue2284

      Maybe initially but the lasting reason was he was trying to force Skal to play btb and that’s not Skas game.

    4. dcforuk

      Skal is better facing the basket. The one and done has pros and cons. One of the challenges is the length of the runway to use one of Cal’s favorite terms. The time pressure to develop these guys in such a short time creates a tension on how long to try and force a guy to develop new skills. KAT was a much better back to the basket player at the end of the year than the beginning. There’s tension whether a good putter like Brad Faxon (him as my example shows my age!) (was) should practice his putting or driving…..

  16. bigblue2284

    I agree with what your saying if a player is staying multiple years. Skal for example was never going to be a good btb player in the NBA, size aggression ect. It’s not UKs chief job to develope players at the expense of winning games and competing.